Prime Minister Theresa May's deputy yesterday warned lawmakers that unless they approved her Brexit divorce deal after two crushing defeats, Britain's exit from the European Union could face a long delay.
The United Kingdom's divorce from the EU has sown chaos throughout May's premiership and the Brexit finale is still uncertain. Options include a long delay, exiting with May's deal, leaving without a deal or even another referendum.
The British parliament voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to seek a delay to the March 29 exit date enshrined in law.
May says she wants to minimise any delay to just three months, but to achieve that she will need parliament to back her deal at the third time of asking early next week, possibly Tuesday.
In essence, May has handed Brexit supporters an ultimatum - ratify her deal by March 20 or face a delay to Brexit way beyond June 30 that would open up the possibility that the entire divorce could be ultimately thwarted.
May's de-facto deputy, Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington, said he hoped the United Kingdom would leave in an orderly fashion but if May's deal was not approved then a long extension was on the cards.
"You don't just have a short, technical extension to our membership of the European Union you almost certainly need a significantly longer one to find a time for parliament to come to a majority verdict," he told BBC radio.
"I hope that MPs (lawmakers) of all parties will be over this weekend reflecting on the way forward," Lidington said, adding the legal default was that the United Kingdom would leave on March 29, unless something else is agreed.